After one year of construction that capped more than 10 years
of hopes and dreams, Oxfords performing arts center was dedicated
at an on-campus ceremony, Oct. 12.
The gala opening of the Hugh and Gena Tarbutton Performing Arts Center,
named to honor the Oxford alumnus (52Ox-55B) and his wife
whose $1.2 million gift helped fund the project, drew more than 150 people,
many of whom spilled out from under the blue-and-white striped tent on
the Oxford quad where the stage was set up.
There are people here today who have waited for this moment for
more than a decade, said Oxford Dean Dana Greene, referencing the
history of the effort to bring an arts center to Oxford, one that began
during the deanship of her predecessor, Bill Murdy. Actual construction
began in September 2000.
In more ways than we can estimate, this is a day for rejoicing,
rejoicing in this achievement and in the friends we have, Greene
The new performing arts center actually encompasses three locations: the
a 15,500 sq. ft. building representing the projects only new construction,
and renovation to two existing buildingsWilliams Hall and Few Hall,
which connects to Tarbutton.
These three buildings signify not only our commitment to the improvement
of infrastructure, but also our commitment to the enrichment of the intellectual,
social and cultural components on this campus, said Euler Bropleh,
Oxfords Student Government Association
Chair of the Board of Trustees Ben Johnson and President Bill Chace also
spoke briefly at the ceremony. Cheryl Fisher Custer (81Ox-83C),
chair of Oxfords Board of Counselors, presided.
Following the ceremony, attendees were invited to tour the three buildings,
each providing a different artistic focus.
The centerpiece of the new Tarbutton Center is the 131-seat theater, built
for dramatic performances but suitable for a variety of uses. The newly
constructed hall also includes a scene shop, rehearsal space, a lobby
and a ticket office.
The upper levels of Few HallOxfords second oldest building,
dating to 1852are for music and choral classes, and practice and
performance space. Few Halls bottom level also includes an art studio
and gallery space, the back of which opens out onto a patio.
Across the quad in the renovated Williams Hall is a new dance studio,
complete with seating for 180. New classroom space for P.E. and dance
was constructed as well.
Other improvements to both Few and Williams include updated, state-of-the-art
audiovisual systems, new lighting and better acoustics.
In her words of thanks, Greene touched on not only the historical architecture
the arts center pays homage to, but the many people involved in realizing
the vision of an arts center on campus.
Like the medieval cathedrals of 13th century France, ours is the
work of the manyof a community of architects and artistsof
builders, of merchants, of donors and of those who believe in the transformative
potential of the arts to lift the spirit, challenge the mind, broaden
the horizons and deepen the inner life, she said.
Chace also mentioned the fulfilling quality of artistic expression. The
glory of art and creativity comes in changing the world by changing the
way we look at it, he said.
The project, which cost $6.3 million, represented the completion of the
largest fund-raising drive in Oxfords history. That effort was highlighted
by the $1.2 million from the Tarbuttons, the largest single gift to the
college by an alumnus.
And the Oxford community didnt wait to put its new facilities to
use. Several of the practice rooms in Few Hall were occupied by student
musicians who would nod politely to visitors peeking in on the them during
the open house, then return to work.
In Williams Hall, a handful of dance faculty and students were choreographing
a routine to Run-D.M.C.s Its Tricky, which, perhaps
unintentionally, gave visitors a first-hand listen to the gyms new,
pristine sound system and the nearly 100-year-old buildings excellent